Frail, elderly residents in nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and assisted living homes are getting evicted at alarming rates because facilities state they can no longer provide care.
Evictions top the list of complaints from assisted living residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country. In 2016, approximately 2,867 complaints were recorded by residents who were evicted from nursing homes, and experts believe that the actual number of evictions is much higher. Frail, elderly residents seem to be the target of most evictions. They are being told by facility staff “we can no longer provide care.”
State-funded facilities, unlike privately-owned facilities, have lenient regulations for documenting resident care. While regulations vary between states, resident evictions are generally allowed for failing to pay facility charges, disobeying facility rules, posing danger to themselves or other residents, or when a facility closes. In state-run homes, loosely drafted regulations allow facilities a lot of flexibility in choosing which residents to admit and when to evict them.
Since many elderly nursing home residents have serious health conditions that affect their physical and mental capacities, they are unaware of their rights. When facing eviction with no support from friends or family, they don’t know what to do. Under federal laws, residents have certain rights if faced with eviction:
- Discharge Notices – A nursing home must send a 30-day written notice to a resident, resident’s designated representative, or the state’s long-term-care ombudsman before discharging or transferring a resident.
- Appeals – Residents facing nursing home evictions have the right to appeal the eviction and demand a hearing. By law, the facility may not evict or transfer the resident while the appeal is pending.
- Medicaid – Residents waiting to get Medicaid cannot be forced to leave a facility.
- Patient Needs – If a facility states that it can no longer meet a resident’s needs, documentation showing the specific needs and how it tried to meet them must be documented before discharge.
- Hospitals – If a resident is transferred or discharged to a hospital, the nursing home must hold the resident’s bed for up to two weeks. If the hospital stay is longer, the home must provide the next available bed for Medicaid residents.
To protect residents’ rights and prevent arbitrary evictions and elder abuse, nursing homes are required to post contact information for adult protective services, advocacy groups, state agencies, and the long-term care ombudsman program.